World economics seer Louis-Vincent Gave, of the Gavekal Partnership, has explained the pivotal meaning of the Crimea Incident in a larger context which he calls a looming "World War IV" -- the conflict between the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam, in which Sunnis control larger reserves of oil, but Shia populations are restive in the very places where that oil is pumped.
If a rising axis of Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq takes hold - (the latter three Shia-ruled, currently) - then fear will tighten across the Sunni belt. Tensions will drive arms sales and raise oil prices, which is the only condition under which Russia prospers. U.S. efforts to sap the strength of that alliance make a major reason for the Obama Administration's peace efforts with Iran… which Vladimir Putin will try to wreck.
It is also a good reason to ponder whether Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan -- himself politically embattled -- might do the one thing that would settle matters in Syria… sending in the Turkish Army. Even with the excuse of humanitarian reasons, it would be risky. (The threat to Russia's Tartus naval base would raise tensions to stratospheric levels, though.)
The real locus of what-if pondering must zero in on Saudi Arabia. Are they sufficiently unnerved by the Russia-Iran-Iraq-Syria axis… and simmering problems with their own restive Shia populations… to decide upon a change in policy? To back off from their blatant efforts to manipulate and poison American political processes, for example, and to instead meddle in more constructive ways?
One ponders all this while reading the latest missive by veteran US diplomat and Middle East expert Dennis Ross, who makes some interesting points about President Obama's coming trip to Saudi Arabia, writing in the Los Angeles Times, in "Soothing the Saudis." He refers to the Saudis biggest concern, the rise of militant Shiite Islam and an axis of Iran-Iraq-Syria that now includes an aggressively revanchist Russia. A problem that Louis-Vincent Gave referred to as "World War Four."
Alas, Mr Ross ignores the elephant in the room. That the Saudis are not the victims in any of this. Their relentless push to establish extremist Wahhabi madrassas all over the Sunni Muslim world helped to create Al Qaeda and most of the 9/11 attackers. Their own textbooks declare the west to be an evil place, to be tolerated only while necessary. Above all, they have ceaselessly striven, since 1948, to stymie any peace process between Israel and its Arab neighbors. By pushing to keep Palestine as an open wound, they ensured only that the Levant region would remain embroiled and steeped in pain, never achieving what the Saudis' Hashemite rivals once dreamed-of -- an alliance between Arabs and Jews that could strengthen all concerned.
Sixty-plus years ago, they decided to keep the Arab-Israeli simmering at near-boil, instead of helping to end it. Now, as negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis reach a critical juncture, the Saudis might sweeten the deal with financial incentives that would finally salve this awful wound. Israel and the Levant and Egypt and Arabia have potential far beyond mere oil, if they were to help foster synergies, instead of trumped-up enmities.
That might seem worthwhile, creating a core of strength all through the region that would solve the Saudis' security problem without a shot. Oh, but if only if those grandsons of a genius are half as smart as their ancestor.
== The Pentagon is concerned... ==
… about many things. I spent an entire day there, a couple of weeks ago, consulting with strategic planners, who have a whole lot on their minds -- like the resurgence of a militarily advanced and aggressive Russia, after the Bush-era leaders pretty much disbanded our peer-capable military in favor of insurgency-fighting SWAT teams. Still, that's not what has the senior officers and officials breaking into a sweat.
The nation's military leadership is in unified agreement that climate change is real, and also that it poses a clear and present danger to the US and especially its armed forces. "The Pentagon's thinking is revealed plainly and publicly in its own 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review , which features no fewer than eight direct, specific, and unambiguous evaluations of climate change as it relates to geopolitics and military strategy."
Ah, but the U.S. Officer Corps is no longer respected in the heartland. As of November 2013, 23 percent of Americans said they "didn't believe in" climate change. Which will be about as effective as not believing in a bullet that's been fired at your nose. No wonder a cult-like tenor has set in, waging war not just on science but every other clade or profession of knowledge and skill in American life.
To be clear, the unequivocal position by the U.S. military has had some effects upon the Fox News party line. Facts like Russian bases erupting along the Arctic Ocean and the opening of the Northwest Passage to summer shipping are pretty undeniable… so Hannity and company have veered to changing the message: "All right, the climate is changing… but… but… climate has ALWAYS been changing and that don't mean we gotta do anything!"
In fact, that's a lie, top to bottom. The last 6000 years has been among the most stable, climate-wise, in the last 20 million… and even so, small perturbations like the 1500s Little Ice Age wrought horrible havoc on nations and peoples. Any astrophysicist will show you how closely Earth skates along the inner edge of our sun's "goldilocks" or habitable zone… and hence why we can afford only traces of greenhouse gas.
But the greatest sign of stunning low-IQ is how Fox-viewers never notice the change in catechism! From "there's no warming!" over to "all right it's hotter: but prove that it's human generated!" It's like the millions of Glenn Beck followers who never once asked "WHICH eight foreign governments did you say George Soros toppled?"
These and dozens of other, never asked questions show that this is the greatest know-nothing campaign against a sapient, scientific civilization in 150 years. Possibly since the Inquisition. And you have to ask: what do Rupert and his partners hope to gain?
Finally, connecting this story to the preceding one, um… you are aware who Rupert's top co-owner of Fox News happens to be? Maybe the rising Russia-Iran-Iraq-Syria axis will convince that House to stop financially supporting Murdoch's campaign against American sanity.
== Aw heck… while we're on the subject… ==
"Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal owns a 7 percent stake in News Corp — the parent company of Fox News — making him the largest shareholder outside the family of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch. Alwaleed has grown close with the Murdoch enterprise…. Last weekend, at the right-wing Constitutional Coalition’s annual conference in St. Louis, Joseph Farah, publisher of the far right WorldNetDaily, blasted Fox News for its relationship with Alwaleed."
Go ahead and dismiss the fact that this particular commentator is rather left wing. Or else… maybe look at the inarguably factual content and ask yourself if the hypnosis-rally at Fox News -- which has deliberately torched any thought of compromise, negotiation or discourse in America -- is really being perpetrated out of love of this country. Or else, perhaps, our Second Civil War is being instigated by those who want us harm.
== There's a much bigger threat ==
New York State is (once again) stepping in to do what the US federal government should be doing (if it weren't deliberately crippled by trumped-up civil war.) New York's attorney general has called for curbs on services provided to high-frequency traders, allowing giant firms with superfast AI systems to jump in between buyers and sellers and haul away the value that both saw in making a deal. In nature this is called predatory parasitism, and I go into detail here: A Transaction Fee Might Save Capital Markets.
It is the next huge scandal. It could easily be prevented. But the real reason to be concerned is deeper… much, much deeper. It could make climate change look tame.
In related news… One person is about to go nuclear in the financial computer arms race. He and his partners will make a $50 billion exaflop supercomputer for foreign exchange trading.
Ah… I, for one, welcome our new Skynet banker-overlords…